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April 8, 2014

Leader in 'just' sustainability movement to speak at Purdue through Discovery Lecture Series

Julian Agyeman

Julian Agyeman 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An environmental social scientist and originator of the "just sustainability" movement will be the keynote speaker next month for Purdue University's Discovery Lecture Series.

Julian Agyeman, a professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University and editor-in-chief of Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, will speak at 4:30 p.m. April 24 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

His lecture, titled "Just Sustainabilities: Reimagining E/Quality, Living Within Limits," is free and open to the public.

"Ensuring that everyone can access and help make decisions regarding vital environmental resources such as clean air, water and nourishing food is a key environmental challenge," said political science professor Leigh Raymond, director of Discovery Park's Center for the Environment.

" 'Just sustainabilities' brings together social justice and sustainability to ensure a better quality of life for all people while protecting the ecosystems that support us. Professor Agyeman is convinced that social and environmental justice within and between nations should be an integral part of the policies and agreements that promote sustainable development."

Purdue's Center for the Environment and the Global Sustainability Institute on campus are joining the Lilly Endowment as primary event sponsors. Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the Discovery Lecture Series in 2006 to bring prominent speakers to campus.

Agyeman's current research explores the relationships between humans and the environment and their effects on public policy and planning processes and outcomes in relation to equity and justice. Included are the potential of the concept of "spatial justice" to contribute to "just sustainability" and the concepts of food justice, interculturalism, cultural competency, culturally inclusive practice and culturally inclusive spaces in urban planning.

"Just sustainability is more accurately described as just sustainabilities, because the singular form suggests there is one prescription for sustainability that can be universalized," Agyeman said. "The plural, however, acknowledges the relative, place and culturally bound nature of the concept."

No newcomer to lecturing, Agyeman (pronounced Ag-yi-man) has been invited to speak at conferences in more than eight countries. He also has more than 160 publications, is series editor of "Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice," and is series co-editor of "Routledge Equity, Justice and the Sustainable City."

In addition to being co-founder and former chair of the U.K.'s Black Environment Network, Agyeman serves on multiple boards including the Internal Advisory Board of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University near Boston; Advisory Board of the Living Space Project in the United Kingdom; and Urban Affairs and City Planning Advisory Board of Boston University.

A native of Cottingham, East Yorkshire in England, Agyeman received his bachelor's degree in geography and botany from the University of Durham, a master's degree in conservation policy from Middlesex University and his doctorate in environmental education from the University of London. He also worked as a high school geography teacher. Agyeman moved to the United States in 1998 and lives in Cambridge, Mass.

Researchers at the Center for the Environment, part of Purdue's Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), are studying ways to help society meet important environmental challenges by modeling and predicting the impact of human activity on ecosystems, monitoring environmental quality, conserving natural resources and developing new technologies.

The center makes new connections between faculty studying the physical and natural sciences and social scientists studying the "human dimensions" of environmental challenges and offers many opportunities for students to participate in its research programs.

 Discovery Park is a major hub for Purdue's interdisciplinary research and home to major centers focusing on everything from biosciences, nanotechnology and entrepreneurship to oncological sciences, homeland and cybersecurity and health care engineering.  

Writers: Brooke Fruits, 260-927-4371, bfruits@purdue.edu 

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Leigh Raymond, 765-494-4182, lraymond@purdue.edu 

Julian Agyeman, 617-913-1165, julian.agyeman@tufts.edu